Thursday, July 25, 2019

8/4: Mac Sabbath at Zanzabar

California's favorite fast food themed metal band, Mac Sabbath, will be returning to Zanzabar on August 4th with Okilly Dokilly and Playboy Manbaby.

Show and ticket information here.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Editorial: Why We Aren't Covering Forecastle 2019

For over a decade 37FLOOD has had the privilege of being the longest running web-based  independent media outlet to cover  Forecastle. We were never afforded the flashy backstage and photo passes that larger media outlets got; but we held our own covering the ever changing, ever expanding Louisville summer festival. We covered the good, the bad, and everything in between, from the move from a free fest to a ticketed fest at the Great Lawn, to the addition of Party Cove.

In the early years rumors of journalists getting their press passes revoked for criticizing logistical problems surfaced; but despite that, when we felt the need to voice concern for the safety of the patrons we did. In 2010 we wrote about the lack of mist tents, the no re-entry policy, as well as not allowing people to bring in water bottles. And the following year the policies changed, making it safer for music fans to enjoy the fest. 

Last year we saw the expansion of Party Cove, but remarked that their wasn't a medical tent or police officers like at the other stages. We also talked about the large amount of passed out teenagers baking in the sun without getting medical attention. We also wrote about how myself and a 37FLOOD photographer were bullied and thrown against a fence by some teenagers who demanded we erase photos we had taken of a crowd dragging a limp boy covered in vomit.

We had been told by some other members of the press that the rumor was we wouldn't be allowed back; even though we were only reporting on issues that put ticket holders in danger. That said, we were not even going to to apply for press passes this year, but a month ago we received an email from Forecastle asking us to apply; which we saw as an amazing gesture on their behalf.  But our confirmation never came; thus ending our 12 year run of covering Forecastle.

We very much enjoyed our time working with Forecastle, and we are saddened that such a line in the sand could be drawn because we raised our voice about issues that we felt needed addressing; and would rather speak up when we feel people are in danger, rather than be pressured to keep quiet under threat of not being asked to return.

Even as such, we would consider returning to Forecastle if the event organizers are willing to let hurt feelings aside and realize we all want the same thing: a fun and safe summer in Louisville, and we hope all of readers who are attending Forecastle this year also have a wonderful and safe experience.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Editorial: Your Charity Is Killing America

What To An Economic Slave Is The 4th Of July?
Your Charity Is Killing America

167 years ago today, on July 5th 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered the speech "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" In which Douglas compares the honoring of such American values as justice, liberty, and humanity on July 4th to the reality of laws and and social norms of "merciless exploitation and the cruelty and torture" at the hands of some proud Americans towards other Americans.

The reality to many Americans in 1852 was far from the values celebrated on that day. Even a decade later when Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, made his famous Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, he only freed slaves within the Confederate states that are 'in rebellion against the United States.' but not slaves within the Union. Lincoln elaborated in a letter to the New York Tribune that said 'If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it.'

Over one and a half centuries later the words of Douglas (as well as the words of Lincoln) unfortunately ring as true as ever. Although the style in which we exploit certain fellow Americans has been modernized, the paradox of celebrating Freedom on July 4th comes as a bitter reminder to some of the brutal reality of life in America.

Entrenched laws and regulations keep lower income Americans from breaking out of poverty, obtaining education, accessing health care, or obtaining fair legal representation. But this is not news, this is something we all know, and like it or not, we think its out of our hands, or that as average middle class citizens we are not contributing to a centuries old cast system in America that ensures the rich hold the power and the poor have no opportunity for advancement.

But this long standing system has recently accelerated to an unstable pace that is punishing the poor in endless and compounding ways: Laws that cap minimum wages at unlivable levels, student loans that can't be curbed by bankruptcy protection, prescription costs at ten times the level of other Western countries.  The top 1/5 of Americans now own 90% of the wealth. The American pie has been divided, handed out and devoured and there is nothing left.  In the last decade alone the cost of an undergraduate degree has gone up 50% and so has the number of people on food stamps. Homeless rates are up 70%. The systematic gentrifying of U.S. cities has left nowhere for lower income people to go except the street. Many U.S. cities have even gotten too expensive for middle income citizens to afford. In some west coast cities it costs more to rent a bunk bed in a shared apartment than I make in an entire month.

Some people like to think wealth is infinite and the only reason some folks are poor is because they are too lazy or stupid to make money.  Of course this isn't true. I like to imagine the wealth in America as the sand in an hourglass. There is a finite amount trapped inside, and each side gains and looses sand depending on how you tip the glass. And right now we are watching all the sand quickly funnel into one segment of the population.

I think we have grown anesthetized to the daunting amount of biased laws and social norms that punish the poor; or we tell ourselves that a portion of our Amazon and other online purchases go to charity, or that we grab Omaze tickets, or that on our birthday we pick a charity from the Facebook list to have our friends donate to.

In an ideal world, any charity worth its salt would admit that they'd rather have to close down due to fixing the issue at hand rather than staying open because the issue has not been resolved. But that certainly isn't the case. Many charity fundraisers, like Omaze, admit that in many circumstances only about 15% of donations make it to the charity. And then there's the issue of powerful corporations like Facebook and Amazon deciding what charities to fund. The wealthy and powerful have control on who gets charitable donations and who doesn't.

Far more upsetting is the idea that donating to charity helps those who are endlessly targeted and exploited find a better way of life, instead of being a momentary triage effort. Many of you know I graduated from Berea College; the famous Kentucky school that is 100% free for its students; and the students come from impoverished backgrounds. After graduation I moved back to Louisville, and became a spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana. They were looking for those in the community that had gone through the BGK program were well known in the area to help raise funds. I was happy to do so and help give back to a program that offered so much to the low income neighborhood I grew up in. But was amazed that of everyone on the board of directors, only one was a former Boys And Girls Club alumni.

How is it that social institutions aiming to give poor folks a fighting chance don't even believe in their programs enough to assume those they help to move up in the world are qualified enough to contribute? Who better to know what poor folks need than those who have lived through it; and yet it is so entrenched in our culture that rich people always know whats best, and poor people never deserve a voice; even in deciding whats best for themselves.  In a time when the upperclass laundry is being aired publicly showing the lengths they will go to to tip the scales in their favor and treat the rest of us inhumanly we still see this drive to block out the lower classes from having the rights all Americans are legally afforded.

  I firmly believe that future generations will look back on our time and how we continually punish the poor with the same disdain that we look back at the Jim Crow era. A black man facing an all white jury that decides his fate isn't much different than the rich and powerful deciding who gets to succeed in America and who gets exploited. Even today we see judges giving leniency to offenders of horrendous crimes because they come from privileged families. There is no facet of our society that doesn't remind poor folks everyday that their voices are not heard and their lives are not respected.

It isn't surprising to me that suicide rates are up over 30% and is in the top 10 causes of death in America; or that opiate addiction claims 50,000 American lives a year. Many of us have no future to look forward to, and no way out and find ourselves in total desperation. No longer in America is the dream alive for the bottom half; not fair pay, or a chance at home ownership, or education, or health care. We are in an extinction burst. The lower income Americans can no longer afford to survive even working full time. But if all men are created equal, why have we decided that inequality is acceptable?

But we can stop this. In a time that was seemingly hopeless Frederick Douglass knew things could change for the better, and they still can. But Douglas wasn't appealing to slave owners or anyone in the south on this day in 1852, He was speaking to the Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York. Because policy doesn't change until public sentiment changes. Lincoln knew this too; When he felt the need to explain why he freed some slaves and not others, he also skipped addressing the south and appealed to New Yorkers. The Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society knew it too. Just because they were far away from the worst offenders of slavery didn't stop them from banding together to bring change for those Americans whom they had little in common with, and were far away from where they were.

And we can do it too. Knowing that what we decide is acceptable or not can greatly change public opinion and policy, we can no longer keep our heads down and think donating to a birthday charity is going to find relief for the millions of Americans who are trapped in a hopeless web of inequality. It is time for those to speak up and demand change. I am not saying to not donate to charity; I am saying that when you do, you demand that the organization follows its own mission statement and allows lower income Americans to have a place within the organization to make real change, and to be a part of the conversation on policy that effects their lives. I am asking you to lean on your elected government  officials to make sure lower income people are not only being treated more fairly, but to have a say in policies that effect their lives.

We cannot rightly say All Americans Are Created Equal when we actively keep many Americans silenced and locked away from any hope to having any quality of life. Personally I can no longer watch local governments create policy that makes it easier to gentrify and exploit the lower classes, to give corporations a pass when they choose profits over human life. I can no longer watch as more and more Americans fall backwards into the trap as a select few throw their privilege in our faces. 

The clock has run out for many Americans, and we can fix this. We just have to speak up and demand real change, and I hope you'll join me.

I hope you will share this and your thoughts with your friends and loved ones, and reach out to the governments and organizations in your area to ask that all Americans be given the same opportunities that so far only are given to a privileged few.

-John King
Chaplain of The Electric Church Of The Tambourine

Tuesday, July 2, 2019